a COVID-19 long hauler experiencing lingering symptoms
Healthy Living

Lingering Symptoms of COVID-19: What to Know

Feb 24 2021

As the months go on, there is more and more we are learning about COVID-19. Among the information being discovered are some long-term effects this virus can have.

Current estimations say that 10% to 20% of those infected with COVID-19 will experience some sort of long-term symptom. These long-term effects are more common with older individuals as well as those with underlying conditions. However, they are also happening to younger, healthy people. And even if someone experienced a mild case of this virus, they can still have lingering symptoms.

Medical professionals have started to refer to this group of individuals as “long-haulers,” as they are experiencing lingering effects for weeks and even months after the virus is gone. More studying is currently happening to learn more about these persistent symptoms.

So, what are the most common lingering symptoms of COVID-19 we know about? 

Shortness of breath and fatigue seem to be the two symptoms most long-haulers experience. Chest pain, joint pain and a cough are also common.

There are also many other long-term effects of COVID-19 people are experiencing, including:

  • Memory loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Rash
  • Brain fog
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Hair loss
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever that comes and goes
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Loss of energy/chronic fatigue

Are people experiencing organ damage from COVID-19?

While the symptoms listed above are definitely the most common, organ damage is also possible.

Many people think that COVID-19 only causes problems with your lungs. While the lungs can definitely be impacted, this virus can actually affect almost any system or organ in your body.

These include but are not limited to.

  • The Brain: Some COVID-19 patients — including young people — have experienced strokes and seizures. They may also suffer from temporary paralysis. Depression, anxiety and mood swings are also possible.
  • The heart and cardiovascular system: Some people have experienced inflammation of the heart. Even those with mild symptoms may see damage to the heart muscle that could lead to heart failure and disease in the future. Lasting effects may lead to blood clots and weakened blood vessels as well.
  • The lungs and respiratory system: As previously mentioned, lungs are the organs most people are worried about with this virus. This is because when COVID-19 damages your lungs, it leaves scar tissue that could make it difficult for you to breathe for many years to come.
  • The liver and the kidneys are two other organs that COVID-19 can have a long-lasting effect on.

The good news is that some of the organ damage from COVID-19 can be reversed. However, it is important to note that that is not always the case.

Why do some people have lingering symptoms from COVID-19 while others don’t?

This is a question that scientists are currently trying to figure out.

One thought is that this virus never really leaves a person’s body, even though a test result might come back negative. Another thought is that these lingering effects are because the immune system kicked into overdrive when it was initially fighting off this virus.

Can I prevent having lingering symptoms from COVID-19?

At this time, there is no specific way to prevent long-term COVID-19 effects if you do become infected. This is because we still don’t know why these symptoms happen for some people and not others.

Therefore, the only true way to fully protect yourself is to not get sick in the first place.

Follow these tips to stay healthy and safe:

  • Wear a face mask when you’re in public
  • Avoid anyone who is sick
  • Stay at least six feet apart from people who aren’t part of your household
  • Avoid large crowds
  • Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, using warm water and soap
  • Keep surfaces that you and others touch regularly clean and sanitized
  • Consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you

Stay updated on what Bon Secours is doing related to COVID-19.

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